When our children were young, Christmas was always a big production. It was particularly exhausting for my wife who of course wanted everything to be just right and bore most of the burden. And it was exhausting for me to try to keep up with my wife.
Gifts were troublesome because you had to make everything equal, you know. You can’t give the kids the impression that you are favoring one of them, so you have to be careful to weigh and measure all gifts for one child against all gifts for another. And there was that I-need-to-get-one-more-thing problem that would send Cristi or I out late at night in the days leading up to Christmas day.
On Christmas morning, we would just want to sleep in. We were so pooped! I can tell you that my wife deserved to sleep in more than I did.
We communicate better now than we did in the early years of our marriage, and that makes things go a lot better, but there was an idea my wife had that has made all the difference during Christmas time. She had this idea 10 or 15 years ago, and it made a very positive impact on an otherwise stressful season.
This was her idea. In addition to a Christmas stocking, each member of the family would receive four gifts and four gifts only, and each gift would fall into a given category:
- Something to wear
- Something to read
- Something to do
- Something from Santa
This was such a simple plan that even I could wrap my head around it.
Having these four categories has really helped us over the years in planning what gifts we were going to buy and in making the actual purchases.
The fun part is that, well, Santa will be Santa. You never know what he will do. Sometimes he will throw in a surprise gift for the whole family. So Santa is our release valve, our wildcard. I have never actually met Santa, but I know he is a pretty creative, thoughtful and generous person.
I think Cristi’s idea was inspired. It has blessed many Christmases in our home, and it has helped our marriage, too. It was the one the thing that popped our Christmas balloon, so to speak, taking a lot of the pressure out of the holidays.
I am grateful to my wife for this wonderful gift she gave our family so many years ago.